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Jonathan Swift

1667-1745. Irish satirist and clergyman. Born in Dublin, he was educated there at Trinity College. After a period as secretary to Sir William Temple, he took orders and became prebendary of Kilroot in Ireland. There he wrote A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books, two of his wittiest satires. He received some ecclesiastical preferment, but his real interest in the first decade of the new century lay in London and politics, where he attached himself in particular to the Tories under Harley and Bolingbroke. After the Hanoverian succession in 1714 he withdrew from politics and spent the rest of his life as dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin, suffering periodically and ultimately continually from painful mental disorder. His greatest work is Gulliver's Travels with its ingenious but also very gloomy view of humanity. Swift had little faith in his fellowmen and immense capacity for showing it. Together these qualities make him one of the most powerful satirists in any literature. His prose is forthright and straightforward, and these same characteristics are to be found in his sermons with their short sentences, logical progression, and calm assurance.